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Rapid reaction: Thunder falls 87-81 to Memphis in Game 3

by Anthony Slater Modified: May 11, 2013 at 11:30 pm •  Published: May 11, 2013

Turning point

In the closing moments, with the game still up in the air, Reggie Jackson made a pair of overaggressive and costly fouls. First, with the game tied at 81 and less than two minutes left, Jackson barreled down the lane and into Mike Conley, who drew a charge. Moments later, after Marc Gasol cashed in two free throws on the ensuing possession, Kevin Durant missed a jumper and an overzealous Jackson fouled Conley in this backcourt. Conley dropped in both free throws, putting Memphis comfortably up by four with 55 seconds left.

It was over when…

…the normally cool-under-pressure Kevin Durant, a 91 percent free-throw shooter, clanged two consecutive freebies on the next possession. They were enormous and uncharacteristic misses for Durant, who once again looked fatigued during the closing stages of another game where he was forced to shoulder an unhealthy burden of the offensive load. He played 46 minutes and went 3/11 shooting in the second half.

Star of the game – Marc Gasol

Gasol was good but not great on offense, finishing with 20 points and nine rebounds on an inefficient 6-of-14 shooting. But in truth, it was Memphis’ defense that won this game. And like always, Gasol anchored the backline, blocking a pair of shots, disrupting a few more and discouraging Thunder players from even entering the paint at times.

Lotta X’s on the Thunder’s shot chart

What it means?

Although the momentum has heavily shifted in Memphis’ direction, this series certainly isn’t over. The Grizzlies, and their underwhelming offense, look beatable. And OKC even had that golden chance to recapture home court on Saturday, tied with two minutes to play. The Thunder didn’t get it done for the second game in a row, but it’s not inconceivable to think they’ll have the same opportunity Monday night. Question is, can a team that’s suddenly gone cold down the stretch show up in the closing moments? We’ll see.

Ibaka’s struggles

Serge Ibaka is 12/39 shooting in this series, including 0/11 in the first quarter. Part of that is because of the talented and taxing frontline he’s going against (and defending pretty well), but much can be attributed to his broken jumpshot and shattered confidence. He didn’t seem afraid to take the shots on Saturday (17 attempts), just hesitant and unsure if they’d even hit rim. And then there were the two missed dunks (and I mean wide open dunks) and a botched layup that speak for themselves.

Video

How about this play from Reggie Jackson?

Durant update

KD doing KD things: 25 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and one coast-to-coast slam.

Quotable

“The Thunder without Westbrook is like Christmas without Santa” -ESPN analyst Bruce Bowen

Tweet of the game

Kendrick Perkins got 17 minutes, none in the fourth quarter.

Up next

Game 4 is in Memphis on Monday night at 8:30.

by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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